Sunday, August 6, 2017

TBG Book Review: Broken Dreams: The Untold Truth By Ruben Groanewald

The Boxing Glove Sunday Night Book Review

By Peter Silkov

Broken Dreams: The Untold Truth By Ruben Groenewald

Broken Dreams: The Untold Truth” is one of the most vivid and personal biographies that you will ever read by a professional boxer. Ruben Groenewald came to England from his native South Africa with dreams of reaching boxing stardom and becoming a world champion. Within a relatively short space of time he would be propelled within touching distance of this dream, only to see it suddenly snatched away by the seedy side of the fight game, which is often only visible in Hollywood films. Soon, Groenewald’s dream had become a nightmare of Kafkaesque proportions, as his boxing career was stubbed out, just as he seemed about to hit the heights.

Ruben Groanewald: Photo:African Ring
This is the story of one man's dream to reach the top, only to be crushed by the darker powers within the sport. Never has the underbelly of the sport been more exposed by someone, who was actually there, and has experienced it. “Broken Dreams” is made all the more raw, owing to the fact that Ruben has written it himself, rather than having an outside person do the job for him.

Broken Dreams” shows us the highs and lows that boxing can take its subjects on, and how the people who run the sport, often show scant regard for the fighters whom keep boxing alive.

Now who could be better to tell us about his book and his boxing career, than Ruben himself.

Hello Ruben, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Hello Peter, Thank you.

So, to begin, how did you get into boxing?

Thanks Peter. When I was 8, I did karate and was reasonably good, but my dad forced me into boxing. He comes from a boxing family. He lost a 13 year old son, Lionel, and his mother (my dad's first wife) in a car accident. Lionel was an amateur boxer and everyone believed he would one day become a champion. After Lionel and his mother died, my Dad married again, and I was born. My dad was boxing mad. He also boxed himself, but never had any guidance, so eventually gave up.

Wasn’t there a family link to the famous Toweel family as well? I read somewhere that they were your cousins? (The Toweels were a very famous boxing family in South Africa, comprising of brothers Vic, Willie, Jimmy, Fraser and Alan Toweel, all of whom fought at world class level from the 40s to the 60s. Vic Toweel became South Africa’s first world champion when he beat the great, Manuel Ortiz, for the World bantamweight title in May 1950)

Yes, the Toweels were my father's cousins from his mother's side and my dad's other cousin, from his father's side, was a boxer called Jannie Bothes, who was a South African middleweight champion.

Were you good at athletics and any other sports, besides Karate, when you were younger?

Yes mate. In school I got medals for rugby, cricket and athletics (long distance running) but my dad wanted me to focus only on boxing once I finished high school. I worked as a fireman for 3 years after school, but my old man (father) told me to resign and go and box in either America or England.

Although you didn’t want to box to begin with, was there a point where you got the bug yourself, and began seeing yourself as a boxer?

Yes, my first amateur fight was at 9, but only at the age of 16 did I feel good about boxing because I started training with a professional boxing trainer twice a week. His name is Anton Van Zyl. I trained with the amateur club twice a week and secretly with the pros twice a week. Anton is probably the best trainer I've ever trained with. I started winning all my fights, including the championships. I really fell in love with the sport of boxing. I thought my ticket to the top was booked. Age 17 I flew to Mauritius to win a gold medal at the All-African games 1995. I was booked to go to the Atlanta Olympics the following year, but an amateur coach called Koos Faber cut my career short. It's a long story. He made a case against me for bad behavior on the tour and I was found guilty and disqualified from amateur boxing for 6 months. I was innocent. When I came back from England in 2009 I heard that the same Koos Faber-Castell is out of amateur boxing because he stole a lot of money from amateur boxing.

Was that when you decided to turn professional, during your ban from amateur boxing? Would you like to go into more detail about what happened and why you were banned? This must have been a big blow because it stopped you going to the 1996 Olympic games?

During team training for the games this guy Koos Faber (who was married) picked me up at 6pm and took me to training, then afterwards, instead of dropping me off directly he would stop at a woman's house, and visit her for about an hour. So I got home after 10 pm. This made me very angry, as I had to get back home and study for school exams. So I could not respect him after that and I showed it on the trip.

So in all, what titles did you win as an amateur? You won the South African equivalent of the British ABA's didn’t you?

Yes, I won the SA amateur title once and the All-African title once. Both at welterweight, which if I remember correctly is 67 kilograms.

You fought all over South Africa, as an amateur, didn’t you fight in the townships too? What was that like for you as a young fighter?

Yes, that was an experience I'll never forget. Boxing in the black townships during the apartheid years. Me and my parents and my coach were the only white people in the hall, but we were safe. The black people, especially in the townships, love their boxing and football. My father spoke Zulu fluently too, that also helped.

Did you ever fight abroad as an amateur, in England for instance?

No mate. After my first year as a senior amateur I was banned and all due to this corrupt Koos Faber. So, just as my amateur career began taking off, it ended.

Can you remember what your final amateur record was?

I had close to 90 amateur fights and I lost 19. The ones I lost were when I just started out. I improved as I got older. I had very good amateur coaches, but the turning point for me was training with the pros.

So training with the pros, as an amateur, was a real turning point for you?

Definitely yes.

Do you think training with professional coaches, would be something that other amateur boxers would find helpful? Especially if they are looking to turn professional sometime in the future?

Definitely Peter. Many amateur boxers don't even punch correctly. The only defense they have is being upright and hand and arms covering the face. We have good amateur trainers here in SA and in UK, but these trainers are training up to 20 kids at the same time. I imagine it's difficult to focus only on one boxer. I might be wrong? But it worked for me, training with a professional boxing trainer. He showed me a lot of techniques.

Right, so he gave you some concentrated one on one training? That's always going to be better than just being one of 20 or so boxers being trained at same time?

Yip. The one-on-one helped, but also the techniques I learned. I don't want to say anything negative about amateur coaches though.

I understand, but it's an interesting point though, that young boxers could benefit from working with a mixture of amateur and professional coaches.

Yes, they should work together, but they won't because amateur coaches want boxers to remain amateurs forever. So I think that's why the amateur organizations or clubs avoid or forbid their boxers to train with pros in fear of losing them.

Yes, that's true... a lot of politics. As is usually the case.

Then you turned professional in 1996, who was your first manager, and trainer as a pro?

It was a nice and kind older gentleman called Willie Lock. He was a well-known boxing trainer, but after about 1 or 2 years with him I decided that Willie was a nice guy, but he was not connected. In boxing, one of the things you need, to go forward, is you have to be connected. So I went to well-known trainer, Nick Du Randt, who recently died in a motorcycle accident. He made South Africa's first WBC champion when Thulani Sugarboy Malinga beat Nigel Benn. I sparred many rounds with Malinga. I also went to London with Du Randt and Malinga as a sparring partner when he beat Robin Reid.

You had your first 13 fights in South Africa and then you got the WBF world middleweight title fight with Delroy Leslie in London. How did that match come about?

My team mate was Giovanni Pretorius who lost to Robin Reid. He was offered the fight against Cornelius Carr for the WBF middleweight title, but pulled out cause he couldn't make the weight. I was a light middleweight, and had only gone 8 rounds once so far as a professional, when Nick Du Randt offered me the fight on 2 and a half weeks notice. And I was a light middleweight. Nick said my purse was going to be 2500 for 12 rounds for the WBF title. I was young and naive. A few years later I spoke to the promoter and he said my purse was between 6000 and 8000.

So you didn’t get your full purse for the Leslie fight?

Well the promoter gave Nick Du Randt 2 contracts and Nick obviously gave me the contact with the lesser money. It's common practice in pro boxing. Promoters will give the manager or agent 2 contracts as to avoid tax and they are dishonest by giving the boxer only 1 contract.

Right, so as a boxer you can't even trust your own team? It's kind of shocking really, even though you hear about it going on, it's still a surprise that a boxers own team would rip him off.

Yes, it's real bad. That's what I hate about boxing. You can't trust many people. They act like you're the best thing since sliced bread, but as soon as you lose, their true colours come out.

Yes, and although there are trainers and managers in boxing, who are honest and care about their fighters, the bad apples seem to pretty much get away with it a lot of the time.

True Peter. There are honest people in boxing.

It's bringing back a lot of memories for me. Nick was a very good boxing trainer and manager. He got a company called Converse All-Star to sponsor his gym and boxers. There were about 20 pros and 10 amateurs in his gym. At the time, there were only one or two white boxers, but it's ok because we all trained together, and formed a brotherhood. Nick told me that the company wouldn’t sponsor me because I'm white and they won't sponsor white people even though all my fights for Nick was on television. I think Nick lied and kept the money for himself. I was only young, and had no income except for boxing, so it was hard. So after I won the All-African title I decided to pack my bags and go to England to pursue my dreams and my father's dreams. I used the little bit of money I saved from my fights to buy a return ticket to England and a visa so I would be legally allowed to box. I flew to I think Brussels, and then to London city airport, then walked to a house in Northumberland road in Beckton in East London. I contacted them before I flew to England and arranged to live there. So I made the long walk to the house with a map in my hand. I got to the house and found it was a 5 bedroom house and all the rooms were occupied. I was tired and angry as I thought there was a room open. So I slept on the lounge area on the floor for about 4 weeks until someone moved out and I could take that single room. I had to pay 15 a week to sleep in the lounge. It was tough as I could only go to sleep once everyone had gone to bed because they watched television there where I slept.

Going back to the Leslie fight, although you lost to Leslie (on points) it was a really good fight and you made a big impact on those that saw you in that contest. Was that when you decided to relocate to London and continue your career here?

Yes Peter. That's correct. I could have gone anywhere like America, but I decided on England.

When did you sign up with the Maloneys?

That was interesting. I got the address of the TKO gym, where Johnny Eames was a trainer, and went to see him. I took along 3 of my fights on DVD to show him. He said he'll look at it and I have to come back the next day. So eventually he looked at it and was very impressed. He wanted to train me. He introduced me to Eugene Maloney who is Frank's brother. They organized me some sparring against Harry Simon and I looked very good as I sparred against Harry. So Eugene immediately wanted to sign me on as he was impressed. The next day he presented me with a boxer/manager contract valid for 3 years between myself and Frank Maloney. Eugene said that he does not have a manager's license, but he will still manage me, but sign Frank Maloney as my manager. I asked Eugene if it is legal and he said 'yes it's 100% legal.' He was bullshitting me. It wasn't legal, but at the time I didn't know it, so I signed the contract.

I was trained by Johnny. After about 2 or 3 fights, Eugene said he's opening a gym in the old Kent Road with Johnny Eames's assistant trainer, Alan Smith. Eugene said I need to leave Johnny and train with Alan. I didn't want to. I thought Johnny Eames was a genuine person who would not steal from his boxers, but I had to do what Eugene told me as I did not want them to turn against me. So, I thought going with Smith was the right move, but I look back now and I should have stayed with Johnny. He would not have allowed Frank, Eugene, and Alan to steal my money from me. Johnny was very upset that I trained with Alan and rightly so. What was I supposed to do in that situation? I was young and just wanted to be a champion. Eugene told me to train with Alan and that's what I did

Yes, well you were young and in a foreign country by yourself, it's understandable that you went along with what they asked you to do.

Then one day I walked into the gym and Eugene said "Ruben if anyone asks, you're fighting Howard Eastman next week,” and he smiled. He said “you're not really fighting him, but just tell everyone you are.” Then he walked away happily. So come next week it was all over the news that I'm fighting Howard Eastman, yet, I knew nothing about it, except for what Eugene said. So then, I saw Eastman fight against Mark Baker who was connected to Eugene. About a week later, my brother in South Africa phones me, and says there are more than one newspaper article about me, and it's not looking good for me. He said that the press is reporting that I pulled out against Howard Eastman on the scales and that I'm scared and promoter Panos Eliades is going to press charges against me. Then about a week late,r Eugene told me I need to come with him to meet his brother Frank as they need to talk to me.

So, I went with Eugene and we met Frank is a restaurant in East London called Babe Ruth's. We sat down and Frank looked very nervous. Eugene said "Ruben do you remember that thing about Howard Eastman that you were supposed to fight? I said “yes why?” Eugene said “well Ruben they are threatening to sue my brother and my brother could lose everything including his boxing license. So Ruben we need you to lie and say that you could not make the weight for the Eastman fight. Will you do that please Ruben?? Will you say you couldn't make the weight?? If my brother wins the case he will give you 15 000.”

Photo: Getty Images

When about did this happen, was this before or after the Anthony Farnell fights?

This was in 2001 mate. I will never forget it. That's why Panos Eliades is out of boxing. The Maloneys used me to get rid of him and I think Panos also lost his TV contract.

Did you even weight in for the fight at all with Eastman or was that just totally made up?

No, I never even weighed in at all. It was all a set up by Maloneys to sabotage the promotion. A few weeks after the fight I went with Frank to a pro football club in London. I'll think of the name. To see their sports and conditioning coach, a guy called Joe Dunbar. He made me run on the treadmill, checked my weight, and body fat percentage. They did all this to cover their tracks to prove I couldn't make the weight if there was ever a court case. Charlton Athletic football Club was the name.

Did he win the case and did he give you the 15,000 like they had promised to do if he won?

To my knowledge, there was no case, and no he never gave me a penny. I realized the Maloneys had a lot of power in British Boxing to make this case disappear. Because the British Boxing Board of Control not to do anything.

It never even came to court, but it cost Panos his TV contract. I'm not sure of the ins-and-outside of what happened, but you can check, I doubt Panos promoted ever again. He's out of boxing.

This was quite early in your relationship with the Maloneys. How did it make you feel about them as they really put you in a difficult position?

Yes, it was very early. I realized they had a lot of power and influence. I hate dishonesty. For a youngster in a foreign country it was very hard. You don't know who to trust. I was very lonely at times. No friends or family. Just the boxing people I saw in the gym every day.

I won the British masters super middle title on a fight that I did not look good. Anthony Farnell's team saw that fight and thought I'd be an easy victory for him. So me having an off-night against Wayne Asker was a blessing in disguise because it got me a chance to fight Anthony Farnell for the WBU title and Anthony was rated in the top ten by all other major organizations. I knew there was no way I was going to lose to Farnell. He was a strong boxer, but I did not think he had my skills. Maloney and everyone else in my team kept telling me what a bad guy Anthony Farnell was and he wasn't very well liked, but that meant nothing to me. I never had any personal grudges or bad feelings towards any of my opponents. It was just business for me.

Also what were your living conditions after you signed with the Maloneys? Did they help you find a place to live?

I kept living in Beckton, but Eugene said he wants me to move out there, and they will help me with accommodation. Big mistake. I lived in about 5 different places in less than a year. I kept moving. Then I lived with one of Eugene's mates for 3 months, and then I lived with his parents for a week, and then I moved again. It was shit to move around like that every other month. I should have stayed in Beckton where I had my own room at least. Eugene's dad did not like me living there. It was just for a week before I fought Terry Morrell. I wanted to wash my training clothes in his washing machine, but the old man said "no way, you can wash it at the cleaners up the road." Hahaha that was funny. So after a week, Eugene moved me to a different place to one of his other connections, lol.

Why did they keep moving you around like that,
it must have been very stressful?

I don't know why they kept moving me around. I think they did not want to lose me as a fighter, but then they should have let me stay where I stayed paying my own money, but they said they want me to focus, but I didn't. Anyway. We'll get to the story of when we broke up. Then Eugene claimed I owed him money for gym fees, rent money, and spending money, lol.

At this point, you’d won 6 fights in London, but not looked too good against Wayne Asker, and because of this, you got the fight with Farnell. So what was the build-up to that fight? Do you think the Maloney’s expected you to lose that fight?

Maloneys bet 30 000 on me to win. I was a 16-to-1 underdog. They were confident that I would win.

And then you did win, which was a big upset at the time, as Farnell had a huge following, and all the media build up. What did it feel like to win that fight and the title?

It was a great feeling. I know it was only WBU, but at the time, it was a strong growth title. I thought the win would open bigger doors for me, but in reality, it was the end of my career. Eugene told me and my family, after the fight, that Frank Warren wants a rematch, and he'll pay 60 000. I believed that because Farnell was Warren's fighter and a big ticket seller. He and Ricky Hatton were the draw cards. 3 weeks before the rematch, I asked Eugene where the contract for the rematch was and how much am I getting. He said "there's no contract and your purse is 16,500 and if you don't take the fight, the WBU will strip you of the title. He was lying. In the rematch I felt stronger, and thought I would beat him better, but it was a South African judge who gave the fight to Farnell, and ultimately lost me the fight. After the fight, Eugene told me he can't work with me again. I had another 2 years remaining on my contract with Frank Maloney. I asked Eugene for my contract so I can move on, but he said "get yourself a new manager and tell him I want 15 000 for your contract." So, i phoned Frank and asked him for my contract. He started getting aggressive over the phone and said "I'm not your fucking manager. Don't phone me!!” Then he put the phone down. I was stuffed.

I wrote to the British Boxing Board of Control and told them about what happened. I told them everything. I told them about how they got rid of Panos Eliades and about the meeting with Charlton Athletic. Simon Block, who was the chief secretary of the BBBC, wrote back and said I can make a case against them, but I would need evidence and it could go on for a long time. Then at the bottom of the letter he wrote "please phone me Ruben." So I phoned him and to cut a long story short, he basically told me my best bet would be to go back to the Maloneys because they're not such bad people, and they can get you a lot of good fights. “So phone them today Ruben and get your career back on track." I was shocked and disappointed. I asked Simon Block to send me the copies of my contracts of all my fights I'd had in Britain, especially the 2 fights with Farnell as I want to see how much I got paid, but he wrote back and said they have never received any contracts. He was lying.

It sounds like your relationship with the Maloney's really broke down after the rematch with Farnell. Didn’t they try to get you any other fights after the second Farnell fight?

They wanted me to fight Eric Teymor who was a very good superb middleweight boxer, and I was only a middleweight, so I did not accept it. Then they offered me an IBO middleweight title against Raymond Joval in Holland for $10 000. I told Eugene to try and get me more money, but he went completely off his head and started shouting. All I did was tell him to ask the promoter for more money. At that stage I didn't trust Eugene anymore. He's a big crook. I thought as a former WBU champ to go to Holland and fight for a better belt is worth more than10, 000.

When you started questioning him more, and asking about your purses, they decided to drop you? But, because he wanted your new manager to buy him out you were unable to find a new manager?

Yes. The more I questioned him, the angrier he got. Eugene on paper was not my manager. Frank was, but Eugene wanted to sell my contract. When I told Simon Block about it he did not do anything about it.

So you were left, unable to box and unable to do any other work in England? You describe in your book how things got increasingly desperate as your money ran down.

Yes it was tough. I was there on a sports visa so I couldn't work as I didn't have a working visa. Everybody let me down big time including the board who were supposed to help boxers.

You carried on training during this time, but found yourself cold shouldered in a lot of the gyms?

Yes Peter. When I eventually teamed up with a promoter and I don't want his name mentioned, he told me that Maloneys had spoken a lot of bad things about me. I was living in a little bedsit in East London and there was no money coming in. Eventually I couldn't pay the rent too, so I started fixing all the landlord's appliances to pay for my rent. I'm an appliance technician. I also did cleaning for him. Odd jobs. Then he got ill, and moved out, so another landlord replaced him, but he said he's got his own appliance technician ,so I was stuffed and I moved into my car. I thought I was losing my mind. During the day I trained at boxing gyms in East London just so that I can wash my clothes and have a shower to keep clean.

But your book also tells how you did met some good people at this precarious time of your life.

That’s right Peter. So one day I was on the tube and I overheard 2 girls talking Afrikaans (my home language.) I decided to go talk to them and it turned out they had recently arrived in London and had a job interview near Epping forest as care workers. They did not know where it is. I told them I'd take them there as I have a car. I knew where it was, so I took them there, and I stayed in the car. The job was to look after a woman who was paralyzed from the neck down. Her name was Vivienne McCardhy. The girls called me into the house as Vivienne wanted to meet me. So I went. She was British and very friendly. She offered me a job to work for her as general worker and driver, etc. Plus, she said I could live in her big house free of charge. Wow, I couldn't believe my luck, and how it was changing. So Vivienne decided to move to Kent, Margate, and said I should move with her. That was the beginning of a brand new chapter in my life.

I was still battling the board and looking for my contracts. I wrote to Frank Warren and asked him for my contracts. His lawyer, Stephen Heath Taylor, wrote back and said they don't have my contracts because they have lodged my contracts with the Board. So, I wrote back to the board and included Stephen Heath's letter, but still Simon Block refused to admit he's got my contracts. I decided to join the GMB union. Micky Cantwell and Barry McGuigan were working for them. I arranged to meet Cantwell and sign up. I gave him all my letters that I had between myself and the Board, and myself and Frank Warren's lawyer ,Stephen Heath Taylor. Micky read through it all and said "fucking hell Ruben you've been ripped off big time.”

I heard from one of Frank Warren's ex-boxers that he saw my contract on Warren's desk and it was 60 000. They were all hiding the truth from me. I can't understand why the British Boxing Board of Control would be so corrupt. Anyway, Micky Cantwell got back to me weeks later, told me he has finally gotten my contracts from Frank Warren's office, and he will post them to me. I couldn't believe it. Anyway when the contracts arrived in saw my signature was forged. I never signed them and phoned Micky and told him. First he said that I need to prove it's not mine. Then he said he'll give my paperwork to the GMB legal department. Eventually he phoned me and said the lawyers looked at my papers and they say I don't have a strong case and they can't help me. So a year later, I was in South Africa and phoned the GMB and asked them if either Cantwell or McGuigan ever handed in any of my paperwork. The lady said no, never, and those 2 don't work here anymore. So they also shafted me.

Do you think they didn’t want to fall out with the Maloney’s and Warren because of the power they had/have?

Exactly right mate. But then why did they start the GMB union, who's main goal was to help boxers? Damn it made me so negative towards boxing. I was only in my 20's. Alone in a foreign country and learning hard lessons.

At one point, you describe in your book how you had help from an unexpected source when Anthony Farnell heard about what you were going through.

Oh yes. While I lived in my bedsit I got a call from Anthony Farnell who wanted me to spar with him for a week. He paid for my petrol, my accommodation and he gave me his credit card, and said I can use it while there in Manchester. Wow. From there on I gained a lot of respect for Anthony Farnell. He helped me while I was down and out. He also paid me for the sparring. We had our differences, but it's all fight talk. I have nothing but respect for him and his family. It might have been only a small deed for him, but for me, it meant the world. Everybody in my team betrayed me. I was almost rock bottom and there comes Anthony and helps me.

Yes, that was good of him, and shows the respect he has for you. Also he probably knew you had got a rough deal.

So someone forged my signature on the contract. Micky Cantwell said he got the Contracts from Frank Warren's office.

You did fight again, but it was only after over 2 years, and when I presume your contract with the Maloney’s had finally ran out? How did those two years affect how you looked at boxing?

The 2 years affected me very badly as I got ill due to the stress the doctor said. I know now that I have an enlarged heart and have to take permanent medication for it. The asthma was never an issue earlier in my life, but it got worse during those difficult times.

You had a bit of an issue with asthma all through your career, but was never diagnosed until quite recently, is that correct?

True Peter. It affected me and my training, and some fights would have been much easier if I didn't have it, but it is what it is. When I fought Carl Froch I could not breathe properly in the dressing room before the fight. It was because my heart was enlarged so my heart was not pumping properly. Plus I had asthma. The better man won that night, but I really was ill. A boxer's health is probably the most important tool he has.

Photo: Getty Images

So it's true to say that, even when you were able to box again, you were still in a lot of turmoil due to what you had been through, and the damage to your career? Then after two fights back, you got the offer to fight Carl Froch for the Commonwealth super-middleweight title? Even though you had only had 2 fights in over 3 years. How did that come about?

Mick Hennessy phoned me out of the blue and offered me the fight against Froch. I wasn't even boxing anymore, but I could not turn down a payday. Hennessy told me about 2 weeks before the fight I can wear any colour shorts and play any song. So I got black and silver. At the venue they told me I can't wear black, and if I do, they'll fine me 2000. So I wore someone else's small shorts. When I walked out to the ring they also did not play my song. I just walked out to 6000 booing supporters. Once the fight began, Froch's wife started swearing and cursing at me, so I told her to fuck off. Then I heard Carl was upset about me swearing at his wife, but it's ok if she swears at me?? Then a few weeks later, I heard from someone in the Froch camp that he and all his mates put money on round 5. I think the ref could have also been involved. I watched the fight on tape and you can hear Robert McCracken say to Froch before the start of the fifth "if it happens then just stay on him." My question is if what happens? ?

I've watched that fight, and although you couldn’t have been in top shape and you were fighting out of your division, you were still giving him a competitive fight. You were upset when it was stopped. Did you feel like you could have gone on?

I was tired as I couldn't breathe properly, but I was definitely not hurt. I could have continued, but so many things in life had gone wrong for me, and eventually you accept it. It's life. I could have continued. Just listen to what McCracken says before the 5th.

Yes, and although he had you cornered, you were blocking most of the punches and he never had you down.

Yes, not all those punches landed on me clean. So, it was just more bad luck. After the fight I tested positive for a banned substance and it was in the newspapers that said I got tested positive for drugs. Wow, I felt so humiliated. It was my asthma inhaler. I basically overdosed on it in the dressing room. So the board took my license away.

The inhaler caused you to fail the drugs test?


Interestingly the referee who stopped your fight with Froch was the same one who stopped his first fight with George Groves somewhat controversially.

Yip, it's the same one. Surely it makes people think about the corruption. You can't win certain fights unless you knock them out.

After the Froch fight, you didn't box again for about two years. You then you had a couple of fights, but you were fighting infrequently, and with mixed results. Is it fair to say that your heart wasn’t really in boxing anymore after everything that had happened to you?

True Peter. After the issue with Maloney’s and the Board my heart was no longer into boxing, but I kept chasing something. I tried to make up for lost time, but I was wasting my time.

When did you start writing your book 'Broken Dreams?”

I started writing it about 5 years ago. It's now out on Amazon. Frank Warren's lawyer tried to get the book removed from Amazon because he's also in it, but the book is still up there. The world needs to know that corruption in boxing is real and it's happening under our noses.

Do you feel writing the book helped you move on a bit from boxing and deal with things that happened?

It did in a way, but it still needs to come out more. I want Frank Warren, Kelly Maloney, Barry McGuigan, Micky Cantwell, and the BBBC to come clean, but they never will. It's all about the money. These people have a lot of power in British Boxing and I proved that in my book. I also mentioned in the book about Michael Watson suing the board and making them bankrupt and who bailed them out? Frank Warren did and I don't think he should have been allowed to do that because now it opens up other stuff.

You still feel things are unresolved in many ways. Have you ever had any reaction from any of the people that you’ve mentioned in your book?

No, Peter. No response or reaction from them, and I've posted the book to them on Twitter and Facebook, but no response whatsoever. I mean in the book I'm making serious allegations, but they're not responding. I think its because they know it will damage their careers and they hope the book somehow disappears.

In the book you provide photos of contracts and letters as proof to back up what you are saying?

Yes, I've got all the signed letters and forged contracts in my possession. In fact, I've contacted Scotland Yard and they take 28 days to get back to me. At first they said they can't help me because of a lack of evidence, even though I told them I have all the evidence needed. At the same time, Frank Warren's right- hand man messaged me on Facebook and said Scotland Yard has never heard of me and then he laughed about it. So, is the British police just as corrupt? I've lodged a complaint about 3 weeks ago and I'm waiting for their reply. I will continue with this case until the truth comes out. I could easily leave it all and walk away, as they say what goes around comes around, but for now, I feel I'm close to a breakthrough.

What is your attitude to boxing today and what advise would you give anyone thinking of becoming a professional boxer?

I don't follow it as much Peter, but I can't walk away completely for some reason. Boxing has been my life for so many years. It saved me when I was a teenager in South Africa when most of my friends got involved in alcohol and drugs. I never used anything like that. From the age of 15 or 16 I've always wanted to become the best in the world. I had so much love and passion for this sport, but it all changed after all my bad experiences with boxing people in South Africa, and Britain. I used to always respect people without asking anything, but today I respect only those who respect me.

So you still love the sport, but not many of the people that run it?

Yeah something like that. I respect that is a business, but I don't like any type of corruption.

Is the main aim of ‘Broken Dreams’ to expose how fighters can be exploited especially when they are in a foreign country?

I suppose so. It's also an eye opener for the average boxing fan. They will watch a great fight and they'll live it, but they won't know about all the sacrifices that was made by both boxers, all the training every day, the injuries, the little money boxers get paid. The fact that many boxers have to have a job. So many stories like that. The public looks at a boxer and say "he'll become champ because he's good" but to become a champ it takes a lot more than to just be good. A lot of will power, determination, and some luck. Yes.

You moved back to South Africa a few years ago what have you been doing recently besides writing “Broken Dreams?”

When I got back I studied exercise Science for 10 months, and I now work as a personal trainer, and gym manager. I look after my 70 year old mom. I'm fighting now, as a pro MMA fighter, and my next fight is 19 September.

How have you been doing as a MMA fighter? How does it compare to boxing?

They're two completely different sports. In boxing you have to defend against punches only, but in MMA you have to defend against punches, kicks, elbows, grappling. I've sparred many top MMA fighters and I'm playing with them. They're good MMA fighters, but novice boxers. I'm learning a lot in the gym every day.

Ok. Ruben thank you very much for your time.

Thank you very much for taking the time to ask me all these very good questions. You're good at interviewing. I'm off to bed now. Once again thank you. It takes guts to expose the truth.

Ruben Groenewald’s hard hitting autobiography “Broken Dreams: The Untold Truth: is available on Amazon for 5.61. It is 312 pages, and a must read for anyone who wants to see the real world of the professional boxer, warts, and all.

Copyright © 2017 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to


  1. Great interview. Ruben has a good story.

    1. Thanks Droeke Malan, hopefully more people will be informed by his story.